WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is emerging as a leading candidate to run the Democratic National Committee, a move that would put him in charge of leading fundraising and coordination as Democrats try to win back control of Congress and the White House.
Ellison, a five-term congressman who represents Minneapolis, remained silent throughout Thursday and Friday morning. His staff postponed a Star Tribune interview, saying the congressman was spending time with family.
Former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders told the Associated Press on Thursday that he favored Ellison's leadership of the fundraising and political arm of the party. Politico reported Friday that Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. — assumed to be Senate minority leader next year — backs Ellison for the job. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also has recommended Ellison.
Ellison's potential rise within the party comes as Democrats across the country are trying to chart a path forward after stunning losses in Congress and the White House. He is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress and one of only two serving in the House, making him a choice that would give the party's organizing arm a decidedly liberal lean as it tries to remake itself.
As co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus, Ellison has proved to be a prolific fundraiser for the party and has crafted voter turnout operations for other progressive candidates across the country.
He has also become a leading critic of President-elect Donald Trump, particularly on issues of race, immigration and refugees.
"From his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, to his plan to deport 11 million immigrants, to his attack today on Minnesota's Somali-American community, Donald Trump's entire campaign has been built on fear and division," Ellison said after Trump's campaign swing through Minneapolis days before the election. "His strategy will fail miserably not only in Minnesota, but around the country because American families know there is far more that unites us than sets us apart."
Bolstering his political bona fides, Ellison won his sixth term by more than 70 percent of the vote on Tuesday, the biggest Democratic win in a state that narrowly picked presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Trump.
Ellison is expected to announce Monday whether he will run for the post.
Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean's name is also being floated to run the organization. Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz abruptly resigned as chairwoman ahead of the Democratic National Convention after e-mail leaks showed the organization strongly favored Clinton to win the nomination over Sanders.
Ellison was an early Sanders supporter. He endorsed Clinton after Sanders dropped out.
If selected, Ellison would be the first Minnesotan to lead the DNC since its inception in 1848. Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is currently serving as vice chairman.